THE HUMAN SEASON by Sarah Rossiter


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A neat, nicely packaged first novel, a mystery-cum-moral, taking place in the chaste confines of an exclusive boys' prep school--a time-warp anachronism featuring blazers and respectful addresses. One of the livelier characters compares the masters and boys of Dunster to that Philippine tribe: ""isolated for hundreds of years."" Further, it's a place ""where every human foible known to man is served up under glass."" Well, not every foible, but there's a flutter of sexual variety (just a flutter--nothing explicit) and rather a fuss about a death--suicide or murder? Narrator Peter Spaulding, Senior Prefect at Dunster, is informed by motherly Melissa, wife of Dunster's coach, that Cate, young wife of English teacher Oliver Manning, has drowned herself. But has she? Stung by memories, and a secret knowledge (Cate had been pregnant--by Peter), Peter seeks out some upsetting revelations: Manning, once adored, with whom Peter had shared That Night two years before, apparently despised the waif he married. Melissa had been observed in a nerve-rackingly intimate connection with Cate, whom she seemed to be protecting; and Melissa's third child resembled. . .? The school's headmaster, Spenser, perhaps turned aside when he shouldn't have. Throughout, Peter still attempts to come to grips with the world outside Dunster and his parents' divorces and remarriages. At the close, a jug of fireflies, a trail of confessions, a father's turnabout, with Peter at last making connections as to responsibility--and love. Although Peter's earnest confabs seem to be overlong, the bits and dabs of puzzle in the amusingly antiseptic setting move nicely to a solution under Dunster's glass dome.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
Publisher: Little, Brown